Monday, November 19, 2012

A land of sweeping Wings

RIDE REPORT : By Ian Paterson

There’s no December edition of the magazine I edit so I take most of November off and work on my photos, do what I’m told around the house, catch up with friends and rellos, and get out on the bike. There’s something wonderful about a solo trip with no schedule to keep to and only a vague idea of where you’re going. I found it both exciting and relaxing.

On Monday Nov 12, I headed off on the Gold Wing on a six-day, 2005km ride around inland NSW and Victoria. I had been hoping to visit friends in Manilla (near Tamworth) but they were in India so I decided to give the trip a more southern flavour. 
Lachlan River at Warroo
On the Monday I rode to Orange for lunch with a work friend and then to Bathurst to stay with my niece and her family. On Tuesday I decided to follow the Lachlan River downstream so rode to Mandurama and then took a great little back road to Canowindra – they were resurfacing three sections but apart from that and a bumpy bit near Canowindra it’s highly recommended. I had lunch in Forbes and then took Lachlan Valley Way to Condobolin on to Lake Cargelligo.   

Main street Condobalin
The lake is full after all the rain we’ve had the past two years and there were plenty of waterbirds, from pelicans and darters to egrets and seagulls. My motel room looked right over the lake. It was my first time in Lake Cargelligo and I have to say that while the lake is quite beautiful, the town isn’t much to write home about. I had dinner in the top pub (there is another pub known as – you guessed it – the bottom pub) and while the food was OK, nobody was what you’d call friendly. The newsagent, post office and one of the two servos are all for sale if anyone is interested.

Lake Cargelligo (from the motel)
All the maps show the road from Lake Cargelligo to Hillston (further west, down the Lachlan River) as dirt but the locals said it had recently been sealed, so on Wednesday I continued down Lachlan Valley Way and then Kidman Way to Hillston, which is about as far west as you can go on the bitumen. The road was in excellent shape and the country wasn’t nearly as flat as I was expecting, with rocky hills in between ripening wheat crops. 

I was really impressed by Hillston. It is very pretty and seems quite prosperous – possibly something to do with all the cotton being grown in the area – and it has a good bakery in the main street. I stopped for a coffee and meat pie and sauce and then sat beside the river for a while reading before having an early lunch at another café beside the river (it was a punishing schedule to keep to). 

Main street at Hilston
After lunch I headed south on Kidman Way to Griffith, where I found the lookout we didn’t quite get to in October, on to Darlington Point on the Murrumbidgee River, and then east via Whitton and Leeton to Narrandera, where I stayed with some old friends. 

There was lots of catching up to do so I didn’t hit the road until Thursday arvo, riding south on the Newell Highway and then on back roads through Urana, Berrigan and Finley to Tocumwal, on the Murray River. I stayed in the Kingswood Motel, which reminded me a bit of the car of the same name. The owners were quite friendly and the bloke suggested I come back some time with the rest of the Canberra Ulysses mob. It was “Parma Night” at the nearby Bowling Club (chicken or veal parmigiana with your choice of 20 different toppings) so that was where I dined.

On Friday I had a walk along the river and then headed south again to Shepparton, centre of Victoria’s main irrigation area, for lunch with another work friend. Then I headed north-east to Yarrawonga and took the Murray Valley Highway through Rutherglen to Albury. I left Albury with a full tank at 5pm and rode to the Hume Weir, across the long iron bridge and around the shore of Lake Hume in the glorious evening light to Jingellic and up to Tumbarumba for the night. 

The upper Murray was stunningly beautiful – there’s water everywhere (the locals said the lake is higher than it’s been for 20 or 30 years), the cows were up to their armpits in lush green grass, and the road was an absolute joy to ride. Tumbarumba has an excellent motel and restaurant that could be a great place for Xmas in July. 

On Saturday I headed home via Batlow, Tumut and the Hume and Federal highways and gave the Wing a well-deserved wash.

Monday, November 5, 2012


The expectant crowd gathered at EPIC/MACCA’s for coffee with a few tasting the breakfast delights of Macca’s. Introductions all round and a briefing on our intended route the crew were anxious to get moving. 

Left EPIC on route to Bungendore where Michael and Tracey were waiting to join the gang. Very pleasant trip to Tarago. Here Peter, Suzanne and Trevor decided to choose the Nerriga route as an alternative while the remainder followed Chas to Lake Bathurst, Goulburn and stopping at Marulan for morning tea. Weather at this stage was a little unsavoury with a slight misty look about it.

Departing Marulan we headed to Tallong, Exeter, Bundanoon, and Fitzroy Falls with a regroup at the Robertson Pie Shop. As I was leading the ride towards Robertson the Southern ridge looked un- inviting weather wise. i.e. the range had cloud covering certain parts of it. To this end I suggested we put on our wet weather gear as a precautionary measure. After a short distance out of Robertson on the Jamberoo Mountain road we were in the thick of it. Yep rain, visibility down to approximately three metres enveloped in full cloud cover and very vague if not non-existent white lines to follow. Now this is good experience for the un initiated. Some of the intrepid gang had not experienced such conditions and I must congratulate them on their safety approach and adjustment to the surrounding conditions.

As we re grouped at the bottom of Jamberoo I can honestly say the baptism of this little treck was well executed by one and all. WHEW now we completed the last little stretch through beautiful countryside to Kiama. With parking space a premium in the main street of Kiama it was a detour around the block and yep space became available to accommodate all our bikes. As it happened we parked opposite a lovely Café so it was bums down and we ordered lunch.

Departing Kiama saw the route going through Gerringong, Gerroa, and Coolangatta via the north side of the river into Nowra. Once again the scenery was just awesome. Nowra to Sussex Inlet was just a brief run down the highway.

On our approach to Sussex Inlet Trevor coincidently came over the UHF seeking our where abouts. To which I replied just about there. Trevor replied that the welcoming gang were sampling the champagne and hurry up. With the check in and unpack at the Motel it was then time to gather around the BBQ area for nibbles, bubbles, beer and stories, many of which were told and lots of laughter heard throughout the Motel.

Now it was time to gather en mass to sojourn to the RSL for dinner. On arrival at the RSL we were ushered to the Restaurant and low and behold the centre stage was set for the Canberra Ulyssians. A sumptuous meal, along with wine and drinks of various types was enjoyed by all. Great atmosphere and we had a special occasion to celebrate Butch and Jan’s 40th Wedding Anniversary so it was congratulations and cheers by the merry crowd to two wonderful people.

On exiting the restaurant low and behold in the Bistro/Lounge area was music and dancing. You got it, the energetic ones got onto the dance floor and entertained the locals.

Sunday breakfast saw us walk about 50 metres to the local bakery and enjoy the county delights. After brekkie some of the gang decided to go back through Nerriga while Chas took the majority through to Ulladulla then onto the Bay for morning tea. Leaving Batman’s Bay mid-morning gave us a pleasant run up the mountain to Braidwood for lunch. Here we were met by Andrew Campbell on his way home from a little run down and up the mountain (he just needed to get out and ride).

After Lunch it was fond farewells to each and every one and thanks to one and all for the fabulous company, great riding and the fun and laughter.

Let’s do it again

Cheers Chas

The great gang were:

Michael &Tracey Winters, Jeff & Maritta Heiler, Butch & Jan Wills, Jennie Buchanan, Mary Coutts, David Greig, Peter & Suzanne Arday, Jo & Hellen Dutton, Ian Paterson, Chris & Maream Dietzel, Mark & Cathy Walker, Trevor McLeod, Keith, Ros , Chas & Jen Towie